Small business owners struggle with the many tasks that they have to do on a daily basis. As you might also find out, it is not an easy job to wear all the entrepreneur hats. There comes a time when you have to delegate some time-consuming tasks to ensure you stay productive. That's what a virtual assistant is for.
Virtual assistants are independent contractors who work from just about anywhere in the world as long as they have an internet connection. Think of a virtual assistant as an employee, a team member, or even a personal or administrative assistant depending on the specific task you want them to do in your business.
In this article, you will learn about virtual assistants and how they can help you grow your business.
5 Reasons Why You Need a Virtual Assistant
Virtual Assistants Are Cost-Effective
Hiring a virtual assistant is cheaper than it sounds. Instead of hiring a full-time employee and all the attending cost of benefits, allowances, etc., you can hire virtual assistants on a freelance or part-time basis. You can also hire on a project-by-project basis, saving you the cost of paying an employee even when they're not exactly working.
Furthermore, many platforms from which you can hire virtual assistants even allow you to pay hourly rates; in other words, you get to only pay for the exact hours worked. And because you are hiring from all over the world, you can choose a great talent at a lower cost than hiring locally.
It Is Virtual
The obvious characteristic of virtual assistants is the fact that they work from a remote location. Hiring a virtual assistant doesn't change your business structure. You don't need to worry about opening an office or expanding your current office space to accommodate a new hire. Your virtual assistant probably has a home office of their own which they maintain at their own cost to help you run your own business.
You Can Hire the Best Global Talent
Business owners may not always find the employees or assistants with the exact skill set they need in the local talent pool. You are no longer restricted in your search for the best hands to deliver your next project.
Hiring a virtual assistant allows you to access the best talents globally, even compete with big firms for the best-skilled people.
Makes Your Business Scalable
Speaking of scaling, having the right support in place is absolutely necessary if you intend for your business to grow. Building a strong team of assistants means you will be able to take on more work, delegate or outsource more responsibilities, and ultimately grow your bottom line.
You Can Focus on High-Value Tasks
As a business owner, your responsibilities are numerous and often time-consuming. But not all the tasks you have to do produce high-value results. For instance, responding to emails is not as profitable as prospecting a client or closing a deal. But you have to respond anyway, and that takes precious minutes away from your daily work.
Getting a virtual assistant allows you to shed some of the more mundane tasks in your business while focusing on the tasks that bring in the most revenue. Tasks like scheduling appointments, graphic design work, social media management, and some administrative work can be outsourced so you can focus on meeting with potential clients and crafting growth strategies instead.
What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?
Virtual assistants can do almost anything. It is important to qualify virtual assistants according to the nature of tasks they can do and their impact on your business.
General virtual assistants can do technical and repetitive tasks that are important for the day-to-day running of your business but not necessarily focused on growing it. Here is a look at some of the roles that a virtual assistant can fill in your business:
- Personal assistant/Executive assistant. They can help you with small, specific tasks like making travel arrangements, scheduling appointments, email management, answering phone calls, and other administrative tasks.
- Data entry. A virtual assistant can shorten the time required to enter data into a software solution and process it.
- Social media management. If social media is a key part of your marketing strategy, you need to keep your social pages busy and up-to-date.
- Research. If you are heavily invested in research, a trained and experienced research freelancer will assist in your work and make it less stressful. You can outsource some of your research activities while you focus on putting the resources together.
Specialized virtual assistants, on the other hand, have specialized skills that are required for overseeing a specific process in your business. They can be hired to achieve outcomes aimed at growing your business directly. Specialized virtual assistants can fill the following roles, among others:
- Graphics and web design. While there are intuitive design tools like Canva to make graphics design easy for business owners today, the tool still requires a significant time commitment. Virtual assistants save you money, and you get professional designs for your marketing rather than hiring a professional graphic designer.
- Bookkeeping. As your business grows and you need to spend more time elsewhere, it may be wise to hire a professional bookkeeper for tax filing, accounts balancing, etc.
- Project management. Handling large, complex projects requires a support team with the required expertise, which a small business may not have. Hiring a certified and/or experienced project manager takes this headache away.
- Customer service. If you have a large customer base to manage, it is a no-brainer to hire a customer service expert to help out. They will ensure your customers get assistance and quick responses to their inquiries.
It is important to note that what distinguishes one role from the other is the level of expertise required to execute it and the amount of time you would need to train or bring the VA up to speed with the job description. Perhaps the cost of hiring a suitable VA for a specific role is also a key distinguishing factor.
How to Hire a Virtual Assistant
Hiring a virtual assistant is a necessary process. You need to painstakingly find a candidate with the right mix of experience, qualifications, and availability to take on your project.
Depending on your needs, it is essential to check that the candidate has the required qualification to carry out the job. For instance, an ideal candidate for project management should have at least a professional project management certification. The same applies to a writing or editing candidate – they should have a background in English, Creative Writing, or Journalism.
However, hiring a virtual assistant is more than checking their educational qualifications; years of experience and a reasonable portfolio of past projects is also a key indicator of who qualifies for what role. It is also important to ensure your hire has the right environment setting to function optimally – an office space, a laptop, high-speed Internet, and the ability to operate in the same time zone are just some of the factors to look out for.
Where to Find Virtual Assistants
You can easily find virtual assistants from your professional and social network, or through networking at seminars or workshops. Putting up a notice to your network will often return a number of suggestions. Twitter and Facebook are particularly helpful in this case.
Further, there are many platforms online where you can find and hire virtual assistants for just about any task. Upwork is at the top of that list. Upwork boasts the ability to connect businesses with freelancers and independent talents around the world. On Upwork, you can find translators, interpreters, marketing experts, Facebook ads specialists, etc., for competitive fixed or hourly rates. Check out this guide to hiring on Upwork.
LinkedIn is another place to find professional freelance talent, especially for specialized projects. LinkedIn ProFinder is a great way to get started.
If hiring the best virtual assistant is proving too much of a challenge, Upwork and LinkedIn have tools that take the guesswork out of the process. You can just leave the hiring process to them and choose from a highly talented pool – just like in regular recruitment!
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Notice to the Reader
The content within this article is meant to be used as general guidelines and may not apply to your specific situation. Always consult with professional human resource personnel to ensure you're hiring the most suitable candidate for your business.